Welcome to the South, one of America’s most iconic regions. Knoxville, Tennessee, is no exception from the charm, the country music, and the exciting history which gives such a flavor to this exciting city. Located right on the Tennessee River, this riverfront community has a wide array of activities to entertain guests and locals alike. From museums and historic landmarks dedicated to educating you about its glorious background, to luscious parks and lakes where you can spend a peaceful Sunday, to stunning theaters that allow you to tap into the artistic side of the culture, there is no shortage of activities to keep you busy in Knoxville. To help you enjoy your holiday in this exciting town to the fullest, we have outlines the best things to do in Knoxville, Tennessee.
1. Hit up a festival at World's Fair Park
This lovingly maintained park, with its sprawling fields and the Tennessee River coasting right through it, has become a hub for festivals, music concerts, parties, and more. Take part in the Bourbon, Beer, and BBQ fest at the Festival Lawn; catch an outdoor country music concert on the Performance Lawn; and if the weather is gloomy, check the schedule for the Tennessee Amphitheater for a show under cover! And if there’s nothing going on that weekend, just stroll the pathways and maybe toss a penny into the The Court of Flags Fountain.
World's Fair Park
Address: 963 Worlds Fair Park Dr, Knoxville, TN 37916
Website: World’s Fair Park
Opening hours: 6am - 12am (daily)
2. Admire the city from the observation deck at The Sunsphere
The Sunsphere is another integral part of the World’s Fair Park; it stands with the Tennessee Amphitheater as the only remaining pieces of the original 1982 World Fair. The Observation Deck can be found on the fourth floor of the building from where guests can get a stunning 360-degree view of Knoxville. See the Tennessee River, the Smoky Mountains, the campus of the University of Tennessee, and the sprawling metropolis area of downtown Knoxville. For a truly marvelous experience, plan your trip around sunset so you can watch the light dance as it goes down on this gorgeous city!
Address: 810 Clinch Ave, Knoxville, TN 37902
Website: The Sunsphere
Opening hours: 9am - 10pm (daily)
3. Get a history lesson at Museum of East Tennessee
The Museum of East Tennessee is dedicated to telling the stories and histories of the people who’ve lived in the region of East Tennessee. The exhibits of the museum begin as far back as the original Cherokee people and pioneers who were some of the first to inhabit the land. It then traces its way through the decades, exploring the Civil War to women’s suffrage and on up to WWII, even delving a bit into the start of country music. So whether you’re a local or a visitor, this museum will give you an even deeper look into this region’s life story.
Museum of East Tennessee
Address: 601 S Gay St, Knoxville, TN 37902
Website: Museum of East Tennessee
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 9am - 4pm; Sat: 10am - 4pm; Sun: 1pm - 5pm
Price: 5 USD
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4. Go zip lining and climbing at Navitat Knoxville
Happy #EarthDay from your friends at Navitat! We can't think of a better way to spend the day than on a treetop...Posted by Navitat Knoxville on Friday, 22 April 2016
You’d better tap into your inner tree monkey, because a day at Navitat Park will have you climbing all over the place! Strap on your helmet, hook into your halter, and put your mettle to the test climbing on rope bridges and whizzing down zip lines high above the forest floor. There are six different tree-top trails, all with varying levels of difficulty, and between 10 to 12 obstacles and challenges to get you from tree to tree. Once you manage your way through, exit the course via a zip line and feel a sense of accomplishment as you sail to the ground!
Address: 2915 Island Home Ave, Knoxville, TN 37920
Website: Navitat Knoxville
Opening hours: Summer hours: Tue - Thu: 10am - 6pm; Fri - Sat: 10am - 8pm; Sun: 10am - 6pm (closed on Mon); Winter hours: Fri - Sat: 10am - 8pm; Sun: 10am - 4pm (closed from Mon - Thu)
Price: 38 - 48 USD
5. Catch a magical live performance at Tennessee Theatre
It’s a close call whether the architecture of the Tennessee Theatre or the performances themselves are more visually stunning! It’s just something you’ll have to decide for yourself when you walk into the intricately designed performance hall. You will be swept away into an evening of entertainment with shows varying from musicals to plays to stand-up comedy. And its location right on Gay Street offers the perfect chance to enjoy dinner beforehand for an elegant night on the town!
Address: S Gay St, Knoxville, TN 37931
Website: Tennessee Theatre
Opening hours: Box Office: Mon - Fri: 10am - 5pm; Sat 10am - 2pm (closed on Sun)
6. Enjoy kayaking and canoeing at Mead’s Quarry Lake
Mead’s Quarry Lake has depths up to 100 feet (30 meters) and is surrounded by tall colorful rock cliffs, providing a lovely background for paddling. Take your canoe or kayak, pack a picnic lunch, and spend the whole day surrounded by the peace of the glistening water. For those particularly hot days, a section of the quarry has been roped off for swimmers so you can cool down your tired muscles after hours of paddling!
Mead’s Quarry Lake
Address: 3518 Island Home Pike, Knoxville, TN 37920
Opening hours: Dawn to dusk (daily)
7. Spot the birds at Ijams Nature Center
Join Ijams this Saturday at 8:30 a.m. for a walk around Seven Islands State Park. We will take our time looking for...Posted by Ijams Nature Center on Tuesday, 4 June 2019
Ijams Nature Center’s mission is to educate people on the marvels of the natural world and spark a love of caring for the planet in their guests. With their many programs, from butterfly viewings to hummingbird observations, to Wildflower Walks and Owl Prowls, their guests get up-close and personal with nature. It is truly an escape from the city life which is well worth your time, no matter if you’re into flora or fauna or outdoor water activities!
Ijams Nature Center
Address: 2915 Island Home Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37920
Website: Ijams Nature Center
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 9am - 5pm; Sat: 9am - 7pm; Sun: 11am - 7pm
Price: Free (accepts donations)
8. Listen to the water along Knoxville Riverfront
The Knoxville Riverfront, whether you visit it by day or by night, provides a relaxing atmosphere in the heart of the city. With ample park benches scattered about, there are plenty of places to sit and read a book, enjoy the sunshine, or watch as the river boats glide back and forth over the glassy Tennessee River. With Hotel Knoxville and Calhoun’s on the River restaurant all within a block of the shoreline, visitors will find it easy to stroll the river or enjoy a meal during the downtime of their vacation.
Address: Riverfront Way, Knoxville, TN 37915
9. Take a tour inside Blount Mansion
Originally belonging to William Blount, one of the signers of the Constitution, Blount Mansion has provided lodging for the prominent families of Tennessee all the way down to slum housing on the riverfront before being revitalized by preservations as a piece of important Tennessee history. Today visitors can see the interior of the Mansion and learn more about the life of the man who played a vital role in getting Tennessee to statehood.
Address: 200 W Hill Ave, Knoxville, TN 37902
Website: Blount Mansion
Opening hours: Tue - Fri: 9:30am - 5pm; Sat: 10am - 2pm (closed on Mon & Sun)
Price: 10 - 25 USD
10. See the animals up-close at Knoxville Zoo
From crowd favorites such as the Malayan Tiger, to lesser-known treasures like the Bali Mynah, Knoxville Zoo is sure to enchant with their wide assortment of wild creatures! Check out the bears at Black Bear Falls; take a safari trip through the Grasslands Africa; admire regal lions at the Valley of the Kings; and always be sure to check out the zoo schedule for the chance to experience an animal feeding show to get closer to the animals!
Address: 3500 Knoxville Zoo Dr, Knoxville, TN 37914
Website: Knoxville Zoo
Opening hours: Sat - Sun: 9am - 5pm; Mon - Fri: 9am - 4pm
Price: 20 USD
11. Wander the trails of Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
Forks of the River, with over 50 miles (80 km) of trail snaking through the 1,000 acres (405 ha) of property allows its visitors the chance to escape the concrete jungle in its Urban Wilderness. Enjoy the beautiful walking trails in the shade of the trees on both the Whaley Trail and West Perimeter Trail. In July, be sure to take the Will Skelton Greenway which follows the Tennessee River before connecting with the French Broad River – this path will take you into a picture perfect field of sunflowers where you can have a totally Insta-worthy photoshoot!
Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area
Address: 3140 McClure Ln, Knoxville, TN 37920
Opening hours: 7am - 8pm (daily)
12. Have a look at the intriguing art collection at Knoxville Museum of Art
Trying to stick to a budget but tired of sitting at home all day? Knoxville Museum of Art is the perfect way to get out and gain a little bit of culture! Heavily dedicated to the native art of Tennessee, you can find exhibits displaying all kinds of mediums of art. Stop into the glass exhibit to learn about contemporary and modern glassworks or tour “Higher Ground – A Century of the Visual Arts in East Tennessee.” And be sure to check the website for music and interactive events constantly being held at the museum!
Knoxville Museum of Art
Address: 1050 Worlds Fair Park Dr, Knoxville, TN 37916
Website: Knoxville Museum of Art
Opening hours: Tue - Sat: 10am - 5pm; Sun: 1pm - 5pm (closed on Mon)
13. Admire the historical buildings lining South Gay Street
Knoxville’s South Gay Street continues to be the hub of the downtown area with its theaters, shops, and over 75 restaurants. Watch the hustle from up above in one of the vibrant rooftop bars. Take a free trolley ride through the city and learn a bit more about the history and culture of Knoxville and why this road played such an important part in the past, and present, of this incredibly historic city. And if you plan accordingly, you can catch a live music radio show on Saturdays to hear either some folksy bluegrass, country, and even some funk music! Gay Street will surely never leave you bored!
14. Explore McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture
This museum reaches out on a more global scale, while also containing exhibits which relate directly to Tennessee and its history. Visit “The Decorative Experience” to view aesthetic art dating back to 2400 BC. See the art and artifacts in “Archaeology and the Native People of Tennessee” to dive deeper into the roots of the culture. And tap into your inner geologist at “Geology and Fossils History of Tennessee” to gain some prehistoric knowledge of the creatures which roamed the state before we knew it existed!
McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture
Address: 1327 Circle Park Dr, Knoxville, TN 37916
Opening hours: Sun: 1pm - 5pm; Mon - Sat: 9am - 5pm
15. Enjoy peaceful strolls around magical Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum
The Knoxville Botanical Gardens has 47 acres (19 ha) of gardens where guests can show themselves on a self-guided tour through the rich vegetation and seasonal flora. The gardens are a lovely place for a stroll but guests can tap into even more here with regularly scheduled workshops, lectures, and classes. Learn about vegetable gardening and plant maintenance, as well as landscape design in case you wanted to bring some of the natural beauty into your own home!
Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum
Address: 2743 Wimpole Ave, Knoxville, TN 37914
Opening hours: Sunrise - sunset (daily)
16. Buy local items at Market Square Farmers' Market
Nothing says southern summer love than an early morning to the farmer’s market. Take your time walking through the Market Square Farmer’s Market admiring the fresh produce and sampling homemade soaps and lotions. Pick up a freshly cut bouquet of wildflowers to decorate the kitchen with. Snag some delicious honey, bread, and eggs, fresh from the farm. And don’t forget to stop by the artisan craft table for some beautifully original crafts!
Market Square Farmers' Market
Address: 501 Market St, Knoxville, TN 37902
Website: Market Square Farmers’ Market
Opening hours: Wed: 11am - 2pm; Sat: 9am - 2pm (closed on Mon - Tue, Thu - Fri, & Sun)
17. Enjoy a scenic train ride with Three Rivers Rambler
All aboard the Three Rivers Rambler for a sightseeing experience quite unlike any other tour in the Knoxville area. Boarding in downtown Knoxville on University Commons (don’t worry, parking is free!), the train ride takes you all the way to the start of the Tennessee River, passing by farmlands and significant historic sites. Check the website for booking information, especially if you plan on partaking in the exciting holidays train adventures!
Three Rivers Rambler
Address: 2560 University Commons Way, Knoxville, TN 37919
Website: Three Rivers Rambler
Opening hours: Wed - Fri: 9am - 5pm; Sat: 9am - 7pm; Sun: 11am - 7pm (closed on Mon & Tue)
Price: 28.50 USD
18. Get hands-on at The Muse Knoxville
We've got more #STEAMfun with Squishy Circuits coming your way for #TechTime today and every weekend this month! Come see us from 3-4p to learn something new! Included with admission. #museknox #knoxrocksPosted by The Muse Knoxville on Sunday, 20 January 2019
The Muse is all about educating its young visitors through “the power of play”. This is the only children’s science museum in Knoxville and will not leave its visitors disappointed with its numerous interactive, and educating, exhibits! Create with phosphorescent lights in “Strong Alley;” safely navigate space in the USS Muse; or take it outside and learn about organic farming in the Science Garden. No matter their age, every kiddo will have an extraordinary time in this science lesson!
The Muse Knoxville
Address: 516 N Beaman St, Knoxville, TN 37914
Website: The Muse Knoxville
Opening hours: Sat - Sun: 10am - 5pm; Mon: 9am - 12pm; Tue - Fri: 9am - 5pm
Price: 8 USD
19. Enjoy miles of scenic walking paths at Concord Park
Concord Park is surrounded by Fort Loudon Lake and sprawls for mile upon mile of beautiful scenery. Take your dog to the Concord Dog Park for some recreation for your little bud! Bring your roller blades and skate the 2 miles (3.2 km) of paved pathways. Launch your kayak or canoe from the fishing pier for a relaxing day of paddling down the river. And pack a picnic lunch to enjoy with the family after a busy morning of jungle-gym shenanigans at the playgrounds!
Address: 10960 Concord Park Dr, Knoxville, TN 37922
Website: Concord Park
Opening hours: 8am - 9pm (daily)
20. Walk past the restaurants, coffee houses and art galleries in the Old City
Mother's Day, Father's Day, Graduation...so many events coming up where you might need a gift! Why not shop local?Posted by Visit Knoxville on Friday, 10 May 2019
Every city has its little bubble of local shops and eateries, and Knoxville is no exception! Stroll down the street of Old City and admire the oddities and treasure of the art galleries and shops along the route. Stop by one of the coffee shops and warm up with some locally sourced lattes! Or have a delicious lunch at a bistro serving Knoxville’s finest sandwiches and salads!
21. Indulge in burgers and bourbons at the Stock & Barrel restaurant
Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account
If you’re into burgers or bourbon or beer or all three, Stock & Barrel is the place for you. All of their burgers are locally grown so you know that the beefy masterpiece resting on its bed of fries is as originally Tennessee as it can get! Ask your waiter to help you pair either a local brew or a rich whiskey with your meal for an all around deliciously life-changing dinner experience!
Stock & Barrel
Address: 35 Market Square, Knoxville, TN 37902
Website: Stock & Barrel
Opening hours: Sun - Thu: 11am - 10pm; Fri - Sat: 11am - 11pm
22. Catch a live basketball match at Thompson - Boling Arena
The Thompson - Boling Arena is the stadium home of Tennessee University’s Men’s and Women’s Basketball and Volleyball teams. Catch one of their games on the weekend and immerse yourself into the wildly entertaining environment of college sports! Or, check the website for details on special events held regularly in the arena. From music concerts to WWE events to sports, there’s an event here for everyone!
Thompson - Boling Arena
Address: 1600 Phillip Fulmer Way #202, Knoxville, TN 37996
Website: Thompson - Boling Arena
Opening hours: Athletics ticketing office: Mon - Fri: 10am - 5pm (closed on Sat & Sun); Concert ticketing office: Mon - Fri: 10am - 5pm (closed on Sat & Sun)
23. Enjoy conversations over great pub food at The Public House
Sesame shiitake mushroom dog special tonight!Posted by Knox Public House on Tuesday, 11 September 2018
The Public House is truly everything a neighborhood pub should be – with no TVs and no live music, the only thing to entertain you is the person across the table! So when you walk in, you’ll immediately notice the welcoming atmosphere and the buzzing noise of conversation and good company! Enjoy being surrounded by friends and family while dining on delicious cheese boards, artisan hot dog creations, and sipping delicious “house concoctions” or “bang up cocktails!” The Public House is truly a place you’ll want to visit again and again!
The Public House
Address: 212 W Magnolia Ave, Knoxville, TN 37917
Website: The Public House
Opening hours: Tue - Thu: 4pm - 12am; Fri - Sat: 4pm - 2am; Sun: 4pm - 12am (closed on Mon)
24. Take a tour through Neyland Stadium and catch a football match
Neyland Stadium stands as one of the most iconic college football stadiums, holding the place of the fifth largest in the nation. Schedule a tour (at least five days in advance) to see the places which make the stadium as legendary as it is. Some of the highlights include General Neyland’s statue, the Peyton Manning locker complex, and the West Club. And stick around for a football game to round out your experience!
Address: 1300 Phillip Fulmer Way, Knoxville, TN 37916
Website: Neyland Stadium
Opening hours: Tours by appointment
Price: 8 USD
25. Meet up with the gang at Carleo's nightclub
Carleo’s, now called One One Seven Lounge & Nightclub, prides itself on its masterful blend of “Southern elegance” with “New York decadence.” It is an ideal place for a late night date where you can have a conversation in the early hours of the evening, sipping your drink in the dimly lit lounge. However, on weekends after 10pm when the DJ hits the stage, the sultry lounge environment turns into quite the dance floor party so make sure you wear the right shoes!
Address: 117 S Central St, Knoxville, TN 37902
Opening hours: Thu: 8am - 12am; Fri - Sat: 8am - 3am (closed from Sun - Wed)
26. Experience some sport's history at the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame
This one is a shout-out to all the women who have made a name for themselves following their dreams! The Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame pays tribute to the ladies who defied the odds and made this sport what it is today. Walk the halls and admire the jerseys and stories of the inductees into the Hall of Fame; see the world’s largest basketball measuring 30 feet (9 meters) tall and weighing 1,000 tons (907 metric tons); and test your own skills on one of the courts located in the hall itself!
Women's Basketball Hall of Fame
Address: 700 S Hall of Fame Dr, Knoxville, TN 37915
Website: Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame
Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 10am - 5pm (closed on Sun)
Price: 8 USD
27. Spend a lazy afternoon shopping at the West Town Mall
Perfect for a rainy day with nothing to do, the West Town Mall offers all kinds of boutiques and department stores through which you can wander and find little things you didn’t know you needed. From popular brands to smaller speciality stores, you’ll easily be able to spend time looking through the treasures. And when you’ve shopped up an appetite, stop by the food court for a little snack before you head home!
West Town Mall
Address: 7600 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919
Website: West Town Mall
Opening hours: Sun: 12pm - 6pm; Mon - Sat: 10am - 9pm
28. Enjoy hands-on workshops at James White Fort
Welcome to the original plot of land known as Knoxville’s birthplace. James White, founder of Knoxville, originally planted his roots for the new city at this place back in the early 1780s. Take a tour through the courtyard, into the kitchen with its giant stone fireplace, across the “Dog Trot,” and into the Main House which still includes artifacts and furniture – such as White’s own desk – which were used by the family decades ago. The James White Fort is definitely a must-see for those history buffs!
James White Fort
Address: 205 E Hill Ave, Knoxville, TN 37915
Website: James White Fort
Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 9:30am - 5pm (closed on Sun)
Price: 10 USD
29. Pamper yourself at Belleza Salon and Spa
Who doesn’t love a little weekend treat yourself? The Belleza Salon and Spa is fully equipped to provide you with the most relaxing and rejuvenating experience after a long day (or week) at work. Peruse the menu and pick the item you’re craving most. Need a massage to relieve those tight shoulders? They’ve got it! How about a nice facial to revitalize your skin? Belleza’s got that too! So what’re you waiting for? Book that appointment because they can’t wait to treat you right!
Belleza Salon and Spa
Address: 6209 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919
Website: Belleza Salon and Spa
Opening hours: Mon - Tue: 8am - 8pm; Wed: 8am - 5pm; Thu - Fri: 8am - 8pm; Sat: 9am - 4pm (closed on Sun)
Called the Chef’s Table Tour for a reason, this culinary jaunt takes you from restaurant to restaurant where the chefs whip up a meal of their choosing to give you a sample of the tastiest food Knoxville has to offer. You had better come hungry because these servings sizes aren’t shy! The chefs themselves will stop by your table to take questions and share cooking tips, as well as tell you about what they’ve prepared for you. From breweries to Italian eateries to a classic American soda shops, this tour will satisfy your taste buds with the city’s best!
Chef's Table Tour in Downtown Knoxville
Duration: 3 hours
So many choices for such a grand time
From Southern history to Southern food to good-old Southern country music, Knoxville will not leave you disappointed with its wonderfully cultural selection of tour and activities! With so many choices for eating, sight-seeing, and learning, you will be enchanted with this city’s vibrant life!
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